Audio News

Audio News for July 5, 2013

Sony Music Unlimited Expands Offline Listening; National Gallery Offers Music Appropriate to their Vermeer Paintings; Songza Offers New Ad-free Paid Service; Bands Oppose Concert Recording on Smart Phones

Published on July 5, 2013

Sony Music Unlimited Expands Offline Listening – Sony’s online music service will soon make its app for iPhones look like its competitor Apple’s own apps, as well as its own Android offering. The subscription service app will allow downloads for offline listening plus high-quality streaming sound, along with a discounted membership rate. Such offline-listening features are already available from Spotify, Slacker, and Rdio with paid subscriptions. Users of iOS devices will be able to download albums, tracks and playlists to listen to without a connection or to save on battery or data usage. The files are available indefinitely as long as users continue to subscribe and connect once a month. The version 1.3 update has a new option for hi-fi audio while streaming. (The announcement does not state exactly what that is.) Members of the PlayStation Plus video game service can get the Music Unlimited premium subscription for about $3.50 per month.

National Gallery Offers Music Appropriate to their Vermeer Paintings – This is the first time the National Gallery has collaborated with a musical organization to add something special to their exhibition. Three times a week performers from the Academy of Ancient Music will be on hand to play the sort of music the well-dressed young ladies and gentlemen in the paintings might have played. One of the concerts featured recorder and harpsichord. One room of the exhibit offers Musical Companies and Festivities: showing lutes and violins alongside other signs of a convivial good time. This takes us back to a time when music was not yet hived off into the concert halls and recording studios, and the idea of “art for art’s sake” had yet to take hold.

Songza Offers New Ad-free Paid Service – The music-streaming and recommendation service Songza, which has some 4.8 million active users for its free ad-based service, is now offering “Club Songza,” a subscription-based service at 99 cents per week so that users can get an ad-free experience. (Pandora has an ad-free service for $36 a year, and Spotify has one at $4.99/month for computers and $9.99/month to include mobile devices.) Songza has also thrown in a couple other features: the ability to skip tracks and special access to more premium content. Their playlists are curated by 50 top music experts that source rare hard-to-find content. Songza is only available in North America.

Bands Oppose Concert Recording on Smart Phones – Artists and fans are now speaking out against the rising trend of filming rock concerts on smart phones. “Some persons would rather record a gig than actually look with their own eyes,” one said. Often a sea of illuminated smartphones obscures the view of the band and shatters the intimacy. Footage filmed a half mile away with even a top sound system cannot possibly match the emotion of a live gig, or a decently-produced Blu-ray of the band. It’s even occurring with classical concerts: pianist Krystian Zimerman recently stormed off the stage at a German piano festival when he spotted an audience member filming his performance. He was quoted as saying “The destruction of music because of YouTube is enormous.”  On the other hand, thanks to the online amateur footage, fans in other countries not served by a particular band now have a chance to sample the concert experience.

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